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The Value of Energy Efficiency to Your Guests and Your Bottom Line

EPA’S Energy Star Can Help Lower Energy Bills

In a recent TripAdvisor survey of more than 700 travelers, half of respondents said they would spend more money to stay at an eco-friendly accommodation. However, 60% of these same travelers said they rarely felt informed about whether hotels are actually eco-friendly. How can your hotel become more sustainable while also ensuring that consumers and guests are aware of your environmentally responsible initiatives?

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program has answers for you. In a competitive hospitality market where “green” is becoming the new standard, Energy Star helps lower your energy bills through proven, cost-effective energy management strategies. The Energy Star brand is recognized by 85% of American households as the symbol for superior energy efficiency, providing a platform for you to credibly communicate your achievements to guests and other stakeholders. By partnering with Energy Star, your hotel can attract green-minded guests while also adding more “green” to your bottom line.

Why Pay Attention to Energy Efficiency?
The lodging industry spends more than $7 billion on energy per year, with the average hotel spending more than $2,200 annually per available room on utilities. With approximately 80% of hotel utility costs coming from electricity, natural gas, and steam consumption, implementing energy management strategies can directly impact your bottom line. In fact, EPA calculates that a 10% reduction in energy costs is equivalent to increasing revenue per available room (RevPAR) by more than 60 cents for limited-service hotels, and by more than $2 for full-service hotels.

The good news is, unlike many other green building measures, improving energy efficiency doesn’t necessarily require significant capital investments. In fact, leading hoteliers have been able to achieve savings of 10% to 30% through low-cost energy efficiency measures alone (such as enhanced operations and maintenance practices)—all without sacrificing service, quality, style or guest experience. Furthermore, an effective and well-promoted energy management program can help you enhance your hotel’s image by aligning your actions with an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer base, which can put more heads in beds. And the benefits go beyond reputation: A growing body of research demonstrates that superior energy performance, as demonstrated by the Energy Star certification, drives enhanced property values and occupancy rates.

Energy Benchmarking Laws
Another reason to pay attention to energy efficiency is the number of state and city governments—including California, Washington, the District of Columbia, Seattle, New York, Austin, Philadelphia and San Francisco—that have passed legislation requiring benchmarking and information disclosure by commercial building owners. A complete list of these mandates, all of which identify Portfolio Manager as the primary means of benchmarking and disclosing energy performance, can be found online, and a number of other jurisdictions are currently considering or designing similar measures. By benchmarking in Portfolio Manager, you can stay ahead of the curve and ahead of your competition.

What You Can Do
Once you’ve committed to energy efficiency as your first step to green, where do you start? Energy Star offers a proven strategy for superior energy management, complete with free tools and resources providing support and guidance every step of the way. As a first step, hoteliers should use Portfolio Manager, a free, web-based tool that allows you to measure and track your hotel’s energy consumption over time—all while controlling for changes in operating parameters and local weather.

In addition to tracking the results of your efforts, Portfolio Manager allows you to earn EPA recognition. Individual hotels with superior energy performance can earn Energy Star certification, and a portfolio of hotel buildings can earn recognition for overall improvement in increments of 10%. Hotels that earn the Energy Star certification are listed in the online certified buildings locator, which is used by Travelocity, AAA, and Orbitz to help travelers identify green hotels.

But Portfolio Manager is just one component in a larger suite of resources. The Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual, for example, provides detailed guidance on opportunities for hotel owners and managers to achieve energy savings through staged energy efficiency upgrades. Readers are encouraged to visit this website to learn how partners like Marriott, Loews and HEI leveraged the Energy Star strategic approach to achieve significant cost savings and recognition.

In summary, Energy Star is a proven platform for achieving energy savings at your hotel. In addition to the impact on your bottom line, you can also promote your efforts to enhance your image and reputation to an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer base. Energy Star provides a full suite of materials and resources to help you communicate your energy efficiency achievements to potential guests, including sample press releases, templates for posters, text for announcements or website articles and a Guide to Energy Efficiency Competitions. By using EPA’s trusted resources to drive energy improvements, and by linking your efforts with the trusted Energy Star brand, travelers will have no doubt that your hotel is working to be eco-friendly.

Learn more today by visiting www.energystar.gov and contact buildings@energystar.gov with any questions.

Andrea Schnitzer is a national program manager for EPA Energy Star’s commercial buildings program and manages work with the hospitality and entertainment sectors. Prior to her work with Energy Star, Andrea spent five years at Abt Associates, Inc. supporting regulatory development initiatives for the U.S. EPA's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule regulating the storage and containment of oil. She holds a masters degree from Duke University and a Bachelors degree from Vassar College.

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